Essay

A strategic framework for biodiversity monitoring in South African National Parks

Melodie A. McGeoch, Mbulelo Dopolo, Peter Novellie, Howard Hendriks, Stefanie Freitag, Sam Ferreira, Rina Grant, Judith Kruger, Hugo Bezuidenhout, Rodney M. Randall, Wessel Vermeulen, Tineke Kraaij, Ian A. Russell, Michael H. Knight, Stephen Holness, Ané Oosthuizen
Koedoe | Vol 53, No 2 | a991 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v53i2.991 | © 2011 Melodie A. McGeoch, Mbulelo Dopolo, Peter Novellie, Howard Hendriks, Stefanie Freitag, Sam Ferreira, Rina Grant, Judith Kruger, Hugo Bezuidenhout, Rodney M. Randall, Wessel Vermeulen, Tineke Kraaij, Ian A. Russell, Michael H. Knight, Stephen Holness, Ané Oosthuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2010 | Published: 10 May 2011

About the author(s)

Melodie A. McGeoch, Cape Research Centre, Conservation Services, Steenberg, South African National Parks, South Africa
Mbulelo Dopolo, Cape Research Centre, Conservation Services, Steenberg, South African National Parks, South Africa
Peter Novellie, Conservation Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
Howard Hendriks, Conservation Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
Stefanie Freitag, Savanna Research Unit, Conservation Services, Skukuza, South African National Parks, South Africa
Sam Ferreira, Savanna Research Unit, Conservation Services, Skukuza, South African National Parks, South Africa
Rina Grant, Savanna Research Unit, Conservation Services, Skukuza, South African National Parks, South Africa
Judith Kruger, Savanna Research Unit, Conservation Services, Skukuza, South African National Parks, South Africa
Hugo Bezuidenhout, Savanna Research Unit, Conservation Services, Kimberley, South African National Parks, South Africa
Rodney M. Randall, Garden Route Unit, Conservation Services, Sedgefield, South African National Parks, South Africa
Wessel Vermeulen, Garden Route Unit, Conservation Services, Knysna, South African National Parks, South Africa
Tineke Kraaij, Garden Route Unit, Conservation Services, Sedgefield, South African National Parks, South Africa
Ian A. Russell, Garden Route Unit, Conservation Services, Sedgefield, South African National Parks, South Africa
Michael H. Knight, Park Planning & Development, Conservation Services, Port Elizabeth, South African National Parks, South Africa
Stephen Holness, Park Planning & Development, Conservation Services, Port Elizabeth, South African National Parks, South Africa
Ané Oosthuizen, Park Planning & Development, Conservation Services, Port Elizabeth, South African National Parks, South Africa


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Abstract

Protected areas are under increasing threat from a range of external and internal pressures on biodiversity. With a primary mandate being the conservation of biodiversity, monitoring is an essential component of measuring the performance of protected areas. Here we present a framework for guiding the structure and development of a Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) for South African National Parks (SANParks). Monitoring activities in the organisation are currently unevenly distributed across parks, taxa and key concerns: they do not address the full array of biodiversity objectives, and have largely evolved in the absence of a coherent, overarching framework. The requirement for biodiversity monitoring in national parks is clearly specified in national legislation and international policy, as well as by SANParks’ own adaptive management philosophy. Several approaches available for categorising the multitude of monitoring requirements were considered in the development of the BMS, and 10 Biodiversity Monitoring Programmes (BMPs) were selected that provide broad coverage of higher-level biodiversity objectives of parks. A set of principles was adopted to guide the development of BMPs (currently underway), and data management, resource and capacity needs will be considered during their development. It is envisaged that the BMS will provide strategic direction for future investment in this core component of biodiversity conservation and management in SANParks.

Conservation implications: Monitoring biodiversity in protected areas is essential to assessing their performance. Here we provide a coordinated framework for biodiversity monitoring in South African National Parks. The proposed biodiversity monitoring system addresses the broad range of park management plan derived biodiversity objectives.


Keywords

ecosystem processes; protected area effectiveness; protected area performance; surveillance; threats to biodiversity

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